STARRING: Jodie Foster, Matthew McConaughey, James Woods, John Hurt, Tom Skerrit, William Fichtner, David Morse, Angela Bassett, Rob Lowe

1997, 150 Minutes, Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

contact2.jpg (8298 bytes)The basic premise behind Contact (based on the Carl Sagan novel of the same name) is simple.

What if the aliens don't come to us, but instead sends us instructions on how to go to them? Surely with the gigantic distances between planets and stars this is the best and most economical way to get around making contact with other life forms and civilizations? So no zipping around from star system to star system in your flying saucer searching for intelligent life. If they can pick up your radio signals and decipher the instructions on how to make this traveling device, then they must surely be intelligent enough to make contact with?

Contact is a rarity: it is a pure science fiction movie. It restores some of the sense of wonder one gets from reading many novels in the genre, but finds so sadly lacking in its celluloid sibling. Don't go see it expecting to see any giant Apple Mac compatible UFOs hovering over Washington or vicious Martians with ray guns blasting away at herds of cattle.

Part of Contact's appeal is that it is fairly grounded in scientific fact. When last did one get totally immersed in a science fiction film because you knew that all of what you are seeing on screen could actually happen? Probably with Close Encounters of the Third Kind and 2001: A Space Odyssey. If you saw any of the abovementioned films and enjoyed them, then Contact is definitely worth checking out.

That is not to say that the film is without its flaws: in some instances it would have done better to stick with the novel particularly regarding characterization, it skirts around some of the issues it raises (like the science versus religion debate) and prefers to play it safe and not offend anyone. There're also some real schmaltzy Forrest Gump-type flashback scenes (not surprising considering that it is directed by Robert Zemeckis who also did Forrest Gump).

However, some special effects sequences are spectacular (don't miss the opening scenes), Jodie Foster is great as the scientist who discovers the alien radio signals and the film remains reasonably faithful to its material.

All in all, Contact restores one's faith in a genre that has dumbed down to an incredible degree in the past two decades or so. If you want something vaguely more intelligent from movies than the various idiocies of Independence Day and The Lost World then I would recommend that you dash off to your nearest cinema to catch what is probably the best science fiction film of 1997.



# 20
of the
Top 100 Sci-Fi Movies
of all time



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